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Chapter 3

ANTA02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: American Anthropological Association, Émile Durkheim, Ethnography

Course Code
Victor Barac

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Ethics and Methods
Ethics and Anthropology
The American Anthropological Association (AAA) believes that generating and using
knowledge of the peoples of the world is a worthy goal. The mission of AAA is to
advance anthropological research and encourage the spread of anthropological
knowledge through publications, teaching, public education and application
As anthropologist research and engage in other professional activities, ethics issues
inevitable arise.
To guide its members in making decisions involving ethics and values, the AAA
offers a Code of Ethics- the most recent revision of the code, adopted in 2009,
recognizes that anthropologists have obligations to their scholarly field, to the wider
society and culture and to the human species and other species the environment.
This codes aim is to offer guidelines and to promote discussion and
education, rather than to investigate allegations of misconduct.
Its main points are:
1.Anthropologists should be open and honest about their research
projects with all parties affected by the research.
2.These parties should be informed about the nature, procedures,
purpose, potential impacts and source of support for the research
3.Researcher should not compromise anthropological ethics in order
to conduct research
4.They should pay attention to proper relations between themselves
as guests and the host nations and communities where they work
5.The AAA does not advise anthropologists to avoid taking stands on
issues. Indeed, seeking to shape actions and policies maybe as
ethically justifiable as inaction
In the host country (the nation where the research takes place), the ethnographer
seeks permissions, cooperation, and knowledge from government officials, scholars
and many others, most importantly the people of the of the community being studied
Cultural sensitivity is paramount when the research subjects are living people into
whose lives the anthropologist intrudes.

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To work in a host country and community, researchers must inform officials and
colleagues there about the purpose and funding, and the anticipated results and
impacts of the research.
Before the research begins, people should be informed about the purpose, nature,
and procedures of the research and its potential costs and benefits to them.
Informed consent- agreement to take part in the research after having been so
informed; should be obtained from anyone who provides info or who might be
affected by the research.
According to the AAA code, anthropologies should reciprocate in appropriate ways:
1. Include host country colleagues in their research plans and
funding requests
2.Establish collaborative relationships with those colleagues and
their institutions
3. Include host country colleagues in publication of the research
Research Methods
Different methods of data collection and analysis emerged to deal with those
different kinds of societies.
To study large scale, complex nations, sociologists came to rely on questionnaires and
other means of gathering masses of quantifiable data
For many years sampling and statistical techniques has been basic to sociology,
whereas statistical training has been less common in anthropology
Traditional ethnographers studied small, nonliterate (without writing) populations
and relied on ethnographic methods appropriate to that context.
Ethnography is a research process in which the anthropologist closely observes,
records, and engages in the daily life of another culture- an experience labelled as
the fieldwork method- and then writes accounts of this culture emphasizing
descriptive detail
Participant observation- taking part in the events one in observing, describing, and

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Anthropology started to separate from sociology around 1900.
Founders of both sociology and anthropology- French scholar Emile Durkheim
Ethnography: Anthropologys Distinctive strategy
Anthropology developed into a separate field as early scholars worked on Indian
(Native American) reservations and traveled to distant lands to study small groups
of foragers (hunters and gathers) and cultivators.
Early ethnographers lived in small scale, relatively isolated societies, with simple
technologies and economies
Ethnography emerged as a research strategy in societies with greater cultural
uniformity and less social differentiation than are found in large, modern, industrial
Ethnographers adopt a free-ranging strategy for gathering information. In a given
society or community, the ethnographer moves from one setting to setting, place to
place, and subject to subject to discover the totality and interconnectedness of social
By expanding our knowledge of the range of human diversity, ethnography provides
a foundation for generalizations about human behaviour and social life.
Ethnographic techniques
The characteristic field techniques of the ethnographer include the following:
1.Direct, firsthand observation of behaviour, including participant observation
2.Conversion with varying degrees of formality, from the daily chitchat, which helps
maintain rapport and provides knowledge about what is going on, to prolonged
interviews, which can be unstructured or structured
3.The genealogical method- procedures by which ethnographers discover and record
connections of kinship, descent marriage, using diagrams and symbols.
4.Detailed work with key consultants, or informants, about a particular areas of
community life
5. In depth interviewing, often leading to the collection of life histories of particular
people (narrators)
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